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W20 Summit: Smriti Irani Emphasizes Inclusive and Gender-Equitable Approach in Climate-Related Policies

The W20 Summit's deliberations are expected to pave the way for developing a coherent strategy to address gender-related issues and foster a collaborative approach among G20 countries.

Shivam Dwivedi
W20 Summit: Smriti Irani Emphasizes Inclusive and Gender-Equitable Approach in Climate-Related Policies (Photo Source: @W20 India)
W20 Summit: Smriti Irani Emphasizes Inclusive and Gender-Equitable Approach in Climate-Related Policies (Photo Source: @W20 India)

The 2-day Women 20 (W20) Summit, themed "Women-Led Development: Transform, Thrive, and Transcend," began today in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu. The inaugural session was graced by the esteemed presence of the Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Smriti Zubin Irani. As the official G20 Engagement Group established in 2015, the W20 aims to promote gender equity and inclusivity on a global scale.

The inaugural session commenced with the release of the W20 Communiqué, a comprehensive document that highlights the call to action under India's presidency across five key priority areas: Climate Change, Women Entrepreneurship, Gender Digital Divide, Grassroots Women Leadership, and Education and Skill Development. Dr. Sandhya Purecha, the W20 Chair, delivered the opening address, shedding light on the initiatives spearheaded by W20 during India's presidency. These initiatives include the Compendium on Women-Led Development, First Respondent Framework for Climate Change, White Paper on Health and Gender Pay Gap, and Women Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Shamika Ravi, chair of the W20 Communique drafting committee, explained that the communiqué serves as a joint call from all members to position women and girls as catalysts for change under the overarching theme of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam. It urges G20 leaders to further their previous commitments, such as those outlined in the 2022 Bali Leaders' Declaration on increasing women's employment quantity and quality. The communiqué also emphasizes the importance of equality and equity for women, urging the development and enhancement of National Gender Strategies funded and tracked using gender-sensitive and sex-disaggregated data.

The delegates and participants were honored by the presence of Dr. Shombi Sharp, the UN Resident Coordinator for India, who congratulated the W20 on the launch of the Communiqué. He highlighted the remarkable delivery of India's G20 presidency, which aligns with the vision of the Honorable Prime Minister of India, focusing on inclusivity, decisiveness, and action-oriented approaches.

A special address was given by Sherpa G20, Amitabh Kant, who called for radical changes to ensure that gender equality and equity become a tangible reality in the near future. The Sherpa praised the progressive W20 Communiqué, which represents a consensus-driven culmination of decisive action points across all priority areas.

In her keynote address, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Smriti Zubin Irani, emphasized Mahabalipuram's significance as the host city for the W20 Summit. She not only highlighted its historical grandeur but also its connection with empowered women. Quoting from the Tirukkuraḷ, a classic Tamil literature text, she shared the transformative philosophy that "wisdom is a weapon to ward off destruction, an inner fortress that enemies cannot destroy."

The Minister commended the W20 for the release of its ambitious, yet attainable Communiqué. She reiterated the pivotal role of women in Climate Resilient Action, which remains a key focus of India's G20 presidency. The Minister stressed the undeniable link between climate change and gender, emphasizing that women and children are the most vulnerable to its impact. She cited a UN report from 2018, stating that 80% of those displaced due to climate change were women. The Minister emphasized the necessity of inclusive, equal, and equitable gender approaches in all climate-related policies.

Digital gender equality emerged as another crucial focus area under India's presidency. The Minister highlighted the need to address not only access to digital training but also the inherent gender bias in coding technology and products. She expressed hope that the W20 forum would facilitate discussions on gender bias in technology and explore the opportunities that Artificial Intelligence presents through a gender lens. Moreover, the Minister called for discourse on technology that considers its implications for women worldwide.

The Minister underscored the importance of deliberations surrounding the care economy. As part of women-led development, a focus on care services would lead to the creation of 300 million additional jobs, with over 80% of them being led by women. The Minister concluded her address by reiterating India's presidency's commitment to the objective of women-led development.

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